Turkey's Guliyev wins 200 in stunning upset at world championships

Saturday, 12 August 2017, 10:15:22 AM. It wasn't Wayde van Niekerk and it wasn't Isaac Makwala. Instead, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey earned the upset of the world championships on Thursday when he m

It wasn’t Wayde van Niekerk and it wasn’t Isaac Makwala.

Instead, Ramil Guliyev of Turkey earned the upset of the world championships on Thursday when he matched Van Niekerk stride for stride and won the 200-meter title by lunging at the line just ahead of the favored South African.

Jereem Richards of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze, while Makwala faded down the stretch and finished sixth.

The 27-year-old Guliyev, a little-known sprinter who transferred nationality from Azerbaijan six years ago, was not even among the top-10 performers this year before he stunned his rivals and the 60,000-sellout crowd at the Olympic Stadium, which had come to see Van Niekerk and Makwala fight for gold.

“It didn’t bother me the attention was on them,” Guliyev said. “Maybe at the next competition, everyone will look at me instead.”

Guliyev finished in 20.09 seconds, .02 seconds ahead of both Van Niekerk and Richards. The South African the took silver by .001 seconds.

Guliyev held his hands over his mouth in sheer disbelief after the slow race — the slowest final since 2003.

“This is not a shock, but this does not feel real,” said Guliyev, whose best performance coming into the world championships was a silver medal at the European Championships last year.

Van Niekerk can only be disappointed with gold and silver. He fell just short of getting the first 200-400 double at the world championships since Michael Johnson in 1995.

Still, he was upbeat.

“Coming away with two medals — both a good color, gold and silver. I think it’s great for my career,” the 400-meter Olympic and world champion said.

In the first 200-meter final without Usain Bolt since 2009, it was wide open from the start.

Guliyev had the second-slowest start of the eight finalists but he quickly surged among the leaders. Van Niekerk was slightly ahead coming off the bend but could not make his fluent stride count as Guliyev stuck with him all the way.

Makwala, at the end of the saga that started with a stomach virus early in the week followed by a forced quarantine and belated entry in the 200 heats, failed to sustain the early pace and quickly fell out of contention.

“The last 50 meters I was feeling tired. The lactic came,” Makwala said. “I’ve had one of the craziest championship journeys ever.”

Japan’s Abdul Hakim Sani Brown finished seventh, losing speed in the latter half due to pain in his right thigh.

“My leg hurt and I wasn’t able to move in the last 100 meters,” said Sani Brown, who at 18 years and 157 days became the youngest finalist ever in the event.

Double Olympic champion Christian Taylor continued his dominance of the triple jump when he won his third world title on Thursday, once again beating fellow American Will Claye into second place.

Taylor leaped 17.68 meters with his third attempt to win by 5 cm, clinching the title when Claye was given a red flag on his last attempt. Portugal’s Nelson Evora, Olympic champion in 2008, took bronze with 17.19.

The 27-year-old Taylor became the first triple jumper to win three world crowns, having also claimed victory in Daegu in 2011 and Beijing two years ago. He also took gold at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics with Claye finishing second on both occasions.

But he had made it clear beforehand that his ambition was to break Jonathan Edwards’ long-standing record of 18.29, set in 1995.

“I have this watch from my sponsor with 18.30 on it,” Taylor said. “I will try to fight, I will get this number. The record is still on. I am still motivated to break that record.

“My motivation is to be the best athlete. This was not the night, I am a little disappointed. But the season is not yet over.”

Edwards said beforehand that he thought his world mark could be under threat. In the event, the contest turned into something of an anti-climax with both producing their best jumps in the third round.

Claye led after the first round with 17.54 before Taylor took the initiative in the second with a jump of 17.57.

Claye briefly regained the lead with 17.63 in the next round but Taylor immediately took it back with the decisive jump.

“Will makes it tough every time,” he said. “If you do not have a rivalry — like I have with Will Claye — then the sport is boring.

“One month ago we did a competition in the mountains, we are trying everything to do this number, even in the mountains.”

Claye felt he should have performed better on the night.

“You can never complain about the silver medal,” he said. “But I felt like I should have executed better today.

“With Christian, we both were in a good shape, he is not unbeatable. He just executed better and I was missing 5 centimeters.”

On another good day for the U.S. team, the Americans also got a 1-2 finish in the women’s 400 hurdles.

Running in the outside lane, Kori Carter picked up speed after 100 meters and never wavered, winning in 53.07 seconds. That was .43 seconds ahead of Dalilah Muhammad. Ristananna Tracey of Jamaica got bronze.

Kenya’s Hellen Obiri remained on course to win her first major 5,000 title after qualifying fastest from the heats.

The 27-year-old won world bronze in 2013 and came back from a year off to claim silver at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Obiri, the world leader this year, qualified for Sunday’s final in a time of 14:56.70.

She will be challenged by defending champion Almaz Ayana of Ethiopia, who ran 14:57.06 in her first 5,000 race of the season five days after her runaway victory in the 10,000 in London.

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